Last year my neighbour planted a lavender hedge for three good reasons: it looks great, the deer don’t munch it and nectaring insects love it. It’s grown up a treat and is always worth a long look as you walk past.
The more you look at wildlife the more its patterns get established in your brain – which means you are hyper-ware when something breaks the pattern. And something did. It was an insect, but it was moving all wrong for a bee, never alighting on a flower though clearly preoccupied with them.
So I looked closer – and there it was, a hummingbird hawkmoth, hovering with sublime skill in front of the flowers and drinking from them with a long proboscis. These are daytime moths that move and act like hummingbirds: same idea and same skills, but evolved along totally different routes.
A lovely thing too, with its pale orange wings and black-and-white fuselage: colours that always remind me of a hoopoe. They are strong fliers and tend to come up from southern Europe. Keep an eye open: this might be a good year for them. Here’s some more info and a moth in action: